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Microfinance support centre officials remanded for embezzling UGX10B

The Microfinance Support Centre Officials being escorted from court by police officers.

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  The Anti-Corruption Court has remanded three top officials of the Microfinance Support Centre to Kitalya government prison for alleged embezzlement of 10 billion Shillings. 

The money had been channelled to the centre by the Ministry of Finance as a grant to teachers under their SACCO. 

The officials are  John Peter Mujuni the Executive Director Microfinance Support Centre, John Mwebembezi the head of Finance and Administration, Julia Birungi an Assistant Credits Officer and teacher Joan Baryaruha Asiimwe.

The group was on Tuesday arraigned before Grade One Magistrate Moses Nabende who charged them with one count of embezzlement and another of conspiracy to defraud.    

Court heard that between November 2019 and August 2020, the accused stole 10.8 billion shillings which was a property of the Government of Uganda.

The accused persons reportedly conspired to commit the crime at Micro Finance Support Centre offices in Kampala District.  

Their lawyers led by Benard Namanya told the court that the charges against the accused persons are bailable by the Grade One Magistrates Court and that the accused persons have substantial sureties.

The lawyers later presented relatives and family friends of the accused as their sureties.

However, except for the prime suspect Mujuni who told the court that he was diabetic, the court was not informed about the health status of the other accused persons. The defence lawyers also told the court that the accused persons were arrested five days ago and since then, they have been in police custody.

But the State Attorney Stanley Baine objected to their bail application relying on an affidavit sworn in by Assistant Superintendent of Police Moses Kaweesa.  

Kaweesa said the bail should be denied because the accused persons are most likely to interfere with investigations which are not yet complete.  

However, the Magistrate Nabende adjourned the matter to September 11, 2020, for ruling on the bail application. 

The alleged embezzlement of teachers’ funds comes at a time when most of them are struggling to survive after being affected by the closure of schools due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Last month, President Museveni directed the Finance Minister to inject 20 billion shillings to Private Teacher’s Savings and Credit Cooperative Society-SACCO and the money was meant to offer them relief from the effects of COVID-19.

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